Oh Oh Jaane Jaana from Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) is one of the most popular songs in Salman Khan’s career. The film wasn’t a hit, but the song became a chartbuster and launched the career of singer Kamaal Khan. He went on to lend his voice for Salman in many playback hits over the years, including Laga Prem Rog (Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?) and Aithey Aa (Bharat). His latest songs are again from a Salman film, the upcoming release Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai. Kamal has sung the songs Seeti Maar and Dil De Diya for the Eid release.
The singer insists that many assume it is a given that he would be singing for Salman because of their long-standing friendship. But his voice is also tested before being finalized for a song. Speaking to us from London, Kamaal elaborated on the voice selection process and how his relationship with Salman has helped his career.
The Salman Khan-Kamaal Khan combo always creates magic. How did the collaboration come about for Radhe?
People think that because of my association with Salman Khan, it’s an automatic thing that if I’m given a song, I’ll definitely be the singer who’s going to sing it. But with Seeti Maar and Dil De Diya, the recorded versions were sent to the music directors and they approved it. It was never a thing that I’m definitely singing the song. A lot of people don’t realize this. Even with Oh Oh Jaane Jaana, when we recorded the song with Jatin-Lalit, at the time, there was another playback singer who recorded the song as well, which a lot of people don’t know. I was lucky that my version was approved, and the song went on to become a hit.
Since the music industry is so competitive, how do you deal with the uncertainty of not knowing whose voice is going to be approved?
This whole concept of having multiple singers, it’s not a bad idea, because I’m a firm believer that the song chooses the singer. Certain voices suit certain songs. I am a big believer in destiny. In Hollywood, actors go for screen tests, multiple actors will audition for the same part. So I think in India, it’s a fairly new concept, but it’s not a bad thing.
Talking about destiny, how do you look back at your journey so far, from 1998 when you began singing for Hindi films?
I kind of compare or think how my journey would have been if I wasn’t blessed to have someone like Salman Khan in my life. Because, as a singer, as an artist, it made my journey a lot, a lot easier. No disrespect to any other actor, but if Oh Oh Jaane Jaana was performed by another actor, who was maybe not a big superstar in Indian cinema, then there’s a chance the song may have not been as big as it is. I always feel that I’ve been blessed to be associated with him and have him, not just as an actor, the superstar that he is, but as my friend. More than a friend, he’s like my brother.
Did the song lead to the friendship or the friendship lead to the song?
My friendship with him was way before Oh Oh Jaane Jaana. I had recorded it as a single and had to go through that whole phase of a newcomer, outside of India, taking my song to music companies to get a record deal. I even went to radio stations, because they didn’t know who I was then. I went to a few radio stations in the UK to say, this is my new song, please, can you play it? In the beginning, I went through that struggling phase of an artist. And then, when Salman heard my song, he loved it and said, whenever I produce a film, this song is 100% going in. And that opportunity came a year later when he was producing Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. And then, as you know, the rest is history.